MELBOURNE, Australia (Aug. 6, 2023) – The U.S. Women’s National Team fell to Sweden on penalty kicks (5-4) after drawing 0-0 in regulation and extra time, ending the team’s run at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA bowed out of the tournament despite a stellar and dominant team performance over the course of 120 minutes in which it out-shot the Europeans 22-9 while fire 11 shots on goal to Sweden’s one.
The shoutout, which went to seven rounds, marks just the second penalty shootout loss in team history during a World Cup with the only other being against Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup Final.
Over the USA’s four games of the tournament, the Americans didn’t lose a game in regulation time, allowed just two shots on goal and one goal, but the lack of clinical finishing on the attacking end would in the end be the USA’s downfall.
Against Sweden, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski and his staff sent out a formation and a game plan that almost worked to perfection, stifling most Sweden attacks while knocking the ball around with pace through the midfield and to the wings to find players to send in dangerous cross and shots. Rodman herself had two sizzling drives pushed away by the Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic in the first half.
The USA played perhaps its most dominant match of the tournament as the team played calmly and cohesively with accurate passes while switching the point of attack to open up the Sweden defense on numerous occasions. Sweden applied pressure and tried to capitalize on quick counter attacks down the wings and high crosses into the box, but the USA back line did well to stifle almost every dangerous foray. Having scored half of its goals off set pieces throughout the tournament thus far, Sweden earned two corners in the first half, but U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was commanding in her box and denied the danger both times by charging out to punch the ball away. The USA actually had nine corner kicks of its own to Sweden’s two, but once again, couldn’t turn those chances into goals.
Midfielder Emily Sonnett, who made her first start of the tournament, played a stellar match and was an integral presence in the midfield as she helped controlled the pace of the game along with team captain Lindsey Horan while also pouncing to pressure any time Sweden tried to play through the midfield. The USA’s best chance of the first half came in the 34th minute when Horan found the end of a corner from midfielder Andi Sullivan from the right side and connected with a powerful header from about six yards out that pinged off the crossbar. Sweden’s best chance had come just four minutes earlier on a breakaway, but defender Julie Ertz, who played an impeccable match along with fellow center back Naomi Girma, recovered quickly and came up with an incredible block to deny the danger.
The second half was a similar story as the USA continued to control the tempo and managed to unlock the defense a handful of times, but a stellar 11-save performance from Musovic – the most for any goalkeeper thus far in the tournament -- kept them in the match as she first denied a chance from Horan in the 53rd minute from inside the box with a quick reaction save on a powerful strike following a cross from defender Emily Fox. Forward Alex Morgan almost gave the U.S. the lead in the final minute of regulation. A brilliant effort from substitute Lynn Williams to win the ball on the right flank saw her send a cross into the box which Morgan met with a header on target, but Musovic again came up with an impressive one-handed save to send the match to extra time.
The USA’s best chances in the first period of extra time came as Sullivan played a ball over the top for Morgan in the 96th minute which the striker did well to control while fending off a defender with strength on the run. She placed a good shot on frame, but Musovic got low quickly to deny her. In the 101st minute, forward Sophia Smith played a great ball for Williams on the right wing. She dribbled in on goal and fired from inside the box, forcing a save from Musovic that landed at Horan’s feet, but her follow-up shot was blocked by a defender out for a corner. The U.S. strung together a couple dangerous chances from Smith and Williams in the second period of extra time, both demanding the most out of the opposing goalkeeper, but the match would ultimately be decided by a penalty kick shootout for the fourth time in the USA’s World Cup history.
The U.S. converted its first three penalties via Andi Sullivan, Lindsey Horan and Kristie Mewis in what was a thrilling shootout that went seven rounds. Sweden converted its first two before Nathalie Bjorn missed and then Naeher saved the next one as she denied Rebecka Blomqvist. Megan Rapinoe, playing in her final World Cup match, could have put the USA securely in the driver’s seat, but she sent her shot over the bar.
Forward Sophia Smith had a chance to win the game on the USA’s fifth kick, but she shot high, and with Rapinoe, who is almost always perfect from the spot, inconceivably missing the kick before, O’Hara’s miss on the USA’s seventh kick set up Hurtig’s highly unusual conversion to send the USA home for the first time before the World Cup semifinals. Naeher herself had converted the USA sixth kick.
After O’Hara’s seventh attempt had hit the outside of the right post, Hurtig’s stepped up to give her team a chance to win the game in the second round of sudden death. Naeher guessed correctly and dove to her right, but ball rebound off her gloves and was spinning back to the goal before she punched it away. For a moment inside the packed stadium, fans thought the shoutout would continue, but Goal Line Technology ruled that the ball just passed over the goal line by mere milliliters before Naeher knocked it away, giving Sweden the necessary conversion to win the match.
- Tonight’s match marked the first World Cup game to go to extra time since the 2019 WWC Semifinals where the Netherlands defeated Sweden 1-0.
- The team’s exit in the Round of 16 marks the first time the USA has not made it to at least the semifinals at a Women’s World Cup.
- Alyssa Naeher recorded her seventh World Cup shutout after the 0-0 draw in regulation and extra time. Naeher ranks third all-time in USWNT World Cup shutouts behind Hope Solo (10) and Briana Scurry (9).
- Midfielder Emily Sonnett made her third career World Cup appearance and third of the tournament.
- Alyssa Naeher, Naomi Girma, Julie Ertz and Andi Sullivan were the only players to feature in every minute of the tournament for the USA.
- Nine players made their Women’s World Cup debuts during the tournament. Eight players debuted in the USA’s win against Vietnam – Savannah DeMelo (who also made her first USWNT start), Naomi Girma, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan, Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman, 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson and Sofia Huerta, while Lynn Williams was the lone debutant in the match against Portugal as she earned her 24th career start and 54th cap overall for the USA.
-U.S. WOMEN’s National team match report-
Match: United States Women’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: August 6, 2023
Competition: 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand; Round of 16
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium; Melbourne/Naarm, Australia
Kickoff: 7 p.m. AEST (5 a.m. ET)
Weather: 51 degrees; mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F OT1 OT2 F PK
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
SWE 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
Penalty Kick Summary:
USA – Andi Sullivan (Goal), Lindsey Horan (Goal), Kristie Mewis (Goal), Megan Rapinoe (Missed), Sophia Smith (Missed), Alyssa Naeher (Goal), Kelley O’Hara (Missed)
SWE – Fridolina Rolfo (Goal), Elin Rubensson (Goal), Nathalie Bjorn (Missed), Rebecka Blomqvist (Saved), Hanna Bennison (Goal), Madgalena Eriksson (Goal), Lina Hurtig (Goal)
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 23-Emily Fox (5-Kelley O’Hara, 120), 4-Naomi Girma, 8-Julie Ertz, 19-Crystal Dunn; 17-Andi Sullivan, 14-Emily Sonnett (22-Kristie Mewis, 120), 10-Lindsey Horan (Capt.), 20-Trinity Rodman (6-Lynn Williams, 66), 13-Alex Morgan (15-Megan Rapinoe, 99), 11-Sophia Smith
Substitutes not used: 2-Ashley Sanchez, 3-Sofia Huerta, 7-Alyssa Thompson, 9-Savannah DeMelo, 12-Alana Cook, 18-Casey Murphy, 21-Aubrey Kingsbury
Suspended: 16-Rose Lavelle
Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski
SWE: 1-Zecira Musovic; 14-Nathalie Bjorn, 13-Amanda Ilestedt, 6-Magdalena Eriksson, 2-Jonna Andersson; 16-Filippa Angeldal (20-Hanna Bennison, 97), 23-Elin Rubensson; 19-Johanna Kaneryd (10-Sofia Jackobsson, 82), 9-Kosovare Asllani (Capt.) (8-Lina Hurtig, 82), 18-Fridolina Rolfo, 11-Stina Blackstenius (15-Rebecka Blomqvist, 112)
Substitutes not used: 12-Jennifer Falk, 21-Tove Enblom, 3-Linda Sembrant, 4-Stina Lennartsson, 5-Anna Sandberg, 7-Madelen Janogy, 17-Caroline Seger, 22-Olivia Schough
Head coach: Peter Gergardsson
Stats Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 22 / 9
Shots on Goal: 11 / 1
Saves: 1 / 11
Corner Kicks: 9 / 3
Fouls: 11 / 15
Offside: 4 / 1
SWE – Kosovare Asllani (Caution) 49th minute
USA – Julie Ertz (Caution) 119
Referee: Stephanie Frappart (FRA)
Assistant referee 1: Manuela Nicolosi (FRA)
Assistant referee 2: Elodie Coppola (FRA)
Fourth official: Casey Reibelt (AUS)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Tatiana Guzman (NCA)
AVAR 2: Katrin Rafalski (GER)